Chapter 7: A new headline

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A tension was cloaking the room. It felt like smoke was drifting through it, not from a nearby fire, but due to Max's rigid thoughts burning inside his head. He knew the moment he laid eyes on Magnifique that heat would shift to his gut where his anger nestled and stagnated. Her mere presence, combined with that shrieking shrill of a voice was like nails on a chalk board for him.

A few chains rustled and echoed through the hallway, before the regal façade of Magnifique entered through the door. Her outfit was even more ostentatious this time around. She had a large crown nestled in her hazel locks and her face was painted in some tribal pattern, only discernible to the more enlightened mind. Her pupils contained contacts, shifting them from round to vertical and lacing her irises with an orange tinge, looking almost zombie like. She had a kaftan hiding her large body, emblazoned with the moon and all the planets. This costume was strange, bordering on delusional, but it was made so much worse by a small rat being stroked in her hands.

"Good Morning Jane or is it Atlantica or Aura?" Max asked.

His first question was confronting. There had been no pleasantries exchanged or idle chit chat, instead Max had gotten straight to the point. He had little time to waste, plus his respect for Magnifique was minimal. His persona was like sandpaper - scratchy, coarse and abrasive.

This question did not even shift a line on Magnifique's face. Her unflappable demeanor rose to the surface again. There was nothing that could rock her aura of tranquility.

"I see you have looked into my past. I knew you would," she replied with a smirk.

"It was an interesting read," Max continued, "fraud, blackmail and robbery. In my ten years in the prosecution department I don't think I've seen a more detailed criminal history."

"I'm not proud of my past," Magnifique lamented, while slumping her big frame into the nearest chair. The rat panicked and scurried up her arm, but was brought back into her embrace with a quick reach.

"I once used my powers for bad," she said, feigning remorse, "but I'm different now. That's why I'm working with you. I want to make a positive impact on my community."

An inner rage lined Max's eyes red. He could not pin point whether her deception or capriciousness angered him more. Whatever the trigger, it was sending intermittent bolts of fury around his body like lightning strikes.

"How can you persist with this charade?" he asked angrily, "you have been found out. The gig is up. The only reason I have you here is to find out how you knew about Red."

These sharp, rasping words failed to impact on Magnifique, instead she responded with her own question.

"Were my pictures not correct? Did I not solve the case for you?"

"We don't know yet," Max admitted, "we have officers looking for Steven Garner right now. I'll know once I interview him, whether he is Red."

"How will you know?" she inquired, looking like she already knew the answer.

"I've heard his voice. I know his accent."

Magnifique dropped her head suddenly, before she shut her eyes and placed her hand on her forehead. She appeared like she was summoning some mystical god, after her mouth hummed and her lids flickered. This side show continued for a minute, before her eyes suddenly snapped open.

"I sense you and Red have history. You have faced his fury before."

"I just told you that I'd met him," Max growled.

"It goes much further than that," she continued, "I can sense an injury that you're hiding which is a result of Red. It isn't an upper body injury, more a lower one, like a foot or toe. My senses are directing my vision there to your lower body. You were tortured by him."

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